The Port of Brookings Harbor commissioners last week approved an emergency response plan for Port employees to follow in the case of a natural disaster, fire, tsunami, hazardous substances or any other form of disaster that requires an emergency evacuation.

"It's the protocol we would take to keep our employees and the surrounding businesses safe," Port of Brookings Harbor co-event coordinator and marketer Tawndy Davidson said. "It gives different escape routes and alternate routes out of each department out here: cold storage, the office, the yard, and how to handle an emergency."

Before this procedure was approved last Tuesday, the Port had an outdated one in place.

"With the Port purchasing the ice house last year, we felt it was a dire need to come up with a response plan and to train employees how to respond to hazardous substances and natural disasters," Davidson said.

The plan outlines who to call such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and a Hazmat team if an ammonia leak occurs in the cold storage plant, what to do if a fire breaks out, who to inform in the event of a tsunami and how to evacuate the Port and secure all of its facilities when a natural disaster occurs.

"It gives everyone a list of responsibilities so thatwe all have a meeting place at the ShopSmart parking lot and how to handle these disasters," Davidson said. "It's just kind of arming all of our employees. Sometimes in the middle of an emergency people forget what to do. It's kind of just putting it on paper so if something happens we keep everyone safe."

The Port chose to update its procedure now at the recommendation of its insurer, Special District Association of Oregon.

"I think it makes everybody a little bit safer: employees and customers alike," Port Manager Ted Fitzgerald said. "In doing the plan andhellip; we were able to spot some holes that existed in our normal emergency response procedures.

"In the past we've been able to deal with things as we went along. We had good employees around the Port andhellip; but it's nice to have the plan written down so now we can direct our employees as how to best approach it. It's good to have some direction."

To create it, Port staff outlined who its local service providers are, reviewed response plans for other marinas in Oregon and made sure it was in compliance with OSHA.

"We came up with this plan to better be able to cover an emergency," Davidson said.